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Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey

(4.5/5 based on 260+ reviews on the web)
There’s plenty to see and do as you explore the secret island at the Royal Gunpowder Mills with a variety of exciting and informative exhibitions.

Set in 170 acres of natural parkland, there are more than 20 buildings of major historic value. It was known as ‘the island’ due to the network of canals which were developed to transport gunpowder to and from the site.

Step through the gates to discover this ‘secret island’ full of fascinating history and exciting science for a surprising family day out.

Award Winning Film & Exhibition

Travel back through time as this extraordinary film, complete with amazing special effects, takes you on a journey from the discovery of gunpowder to the race into space. Find out how gunpowder and explosives have literally shaped the world – both for good and ill over the centuries.

Discover the hidden truth about this top secret facility which has played a major part in the defence of the realm through the ages. Through a series of interactive displays, find out how gunpowder came to Britain, what life was like between the decks of a warship, how the famous bouncing bomb was developed and the vital role the Gunpowder Mills played in both World Wars.

The Armoury is an impressively comprehensive collection of small arms and militaria, displaying over 200 historic firearms covering the periods from the English Civil War to present day conflicts. Visitors are encouraged to handle and inspect a variety of historic weapons.

Among the new features that visitors will be able to enjoy is the ‘Rocket Vault’ where you will be able to see some of the secret rockets worked on at Waltham Abbey.

Professor Nitrate’s Mad-Lab is a fun-packed series of hands on experiments and activities set within the laboratory of eccentric rocket scientist. The Professor is always on the look-out for willing volunteers to test his latest theories so visitors will need to be prepared for fun-filled and, occasionally, smoke-filled adventures!

Two exciting new temporary exhibitions will showcase the awesome power of the natural world:

‘Feel the Force’ (May Half Term) uses a series of large-scale, interactive exhibits to graphically demonstrate the forces of nature; from smoke rings and bubbles, to the way water flows.

Sparks will fly in ‘Shocking Electricity’ (Summer Holidays), a new exhibition of weird and wonderful experiments for all ages. Make an explosion using just water, experiment with batteries and generators, magnets and plasma globes, and see if you dare touch the electric fence.

‘Women at War’ is a fascinating photographic display highlighting the vital and varied role women have played during wartime. The exhibition perfectly captures the unfolding social history as women took a significant step towards equality.

‘Dangerous Days’ brings together surviving artefacts, explosives-making equipment, pictures and sound recordings which reveal fascinating details about the dangers and heroisms of the people who worked at, and lived near, the ‘Royal Gunpowder Factory’ during the Second World War.

The 1940s Exhibition is an authentic recreation of the sights and sounds of an air raid; visitors can step inside an Anderson Shelter and even peek into a wartime kitchen and back yard. You can also browse in a 1940s general store and post office and see a 1940s toy shop.

For nature lovers, the Wildlife Tower is perfectly positioned on the edge of the woodland, offering visitors a great vantage point with panoramic views to spot the resident wildlife. Get up-to-date information, photos and facts about the wildlife living on the site.

Then take a stroll down the Nature Walk to explore a large section of the thriving woodland from a network of boardwalks, bridges and footpaths.

The Military Truck or Land Train Tours are always popular, offering the chance to see areas of the site which are normally restricted. The area is home to plenty of wildlife and the remains of a number of buildings which were vital to the production of gunpowder on the site.

The tours last about 40 minutes and are accompanied by one of the site’s experienced guides. (There is a small extra charge for land train tours.)

Please see www.royalgunpowdermills.com

or call 01992 707370 for more information.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Full on fun for the kids lots to see with so much history from the 1600 hundreds .I would advise anyone interested in seeing this attraction to go this year as the site may be sold. Only minus take yo...  more »
  • Excellent day for two families. Great day out. Built rockets. Friendly staff. Fascinating place. Lots to do.  more »
  • We went to a day specially for children. There were arts and craft activities related to rockets and space missions as well as other displays. The lab demonstrations were outstanding (Professor Nitrat...  more »
Google
  • What a tribute to the hard working volunteer team at this fascinating site. We came as a family - teenagers, parents and grandparents - and all of us were genuinely interested by the history, architecture and artefacts. Excellent and entertaining road train tour and some extremely knowledgeable people at hand to explain more about the exhibits in the Armoury and Rocket Vault. However my own personal highlight was the Mad Lab Science Show which I thought was excellently executed and cleverly devised. In the midst of the laughter and the experiments there were some brilliant safety messages put across in a truly memorable way. Heartily recommend a visit to anyone with an interest in science, history or developing a sense of curiosity and experimentation!
  • Great place to take the kids. We went to the bonfire night event and it was fun!
  • Great day out for the family. Our son had great fun building a rocket. Launching it. Could be better sign posted around the grounds is the only small thing that needs improving
  • Great way to spend a few hours learning about bangs and stuff
  • A great day out!!! Staff very cheerful and polite. A lot bigger than we expected. Plenty of activities for the kids. Both the kids and the adults loved it!